As the summer months come to an end and fall arrives, a different set of bugs become active and may be joining you for the season’s last barbeques: wasps. Wasps are buzzing in an out of yards and forming nests in any opportune spots your home might provide. Many people are allergic to bees and/or wasps, or just plain don’t want to be stung, so the time has come to know your enemy and figure out ways to avoid them.
How to keep wasps away
- Step 1. Remove unwanted food and cover trashcans – First things first, remove anything the wasps might be attracted to. This includes left over picnic food or pet food and tightly sealing your trashcans. Nectar and bird food may also attract wasps, so think about removing those things as well. Remember, sweet things attract wasps from all around and that includes sweet perfumes and lotions.
- Step 2. Maintain home fixtures and structure – Take a walk around your home and check for any areas that may need repair. Broken panels or siding, gaps in soffits and other crevices are perfect homes for a potential wasp nest. Make sure windows, doors and screens are all in working order so that no unwanted creature flies in. Do a yard check and search for any rodent holes or potential burrows for wasps to make a home in. If they’re unoccupied, and sometimes even if they are, fill the hole with dirt or debris.
- Step 3. Use wasp decoys – You can purchase a decorative wasp decoys from a garden or home improvement store. Paper wasps are territorial and tend not to build a nest within 200 feet of another nest, so a couple decoys on either side of the house should deter any from moving in.
- Step 4. Deploy wasp traps – These can be purchased from a garden or home improvement store, but you can also easily make one if you have: a two-liter bottle, sweet liquid (perhaps Mt Dew or similar), and some masking or duct tape.Take the bottle, cut about a fourth of the bottle from the top off and flip it over. Set that top portion within the bottom portion so that there is a pathway leading through the small opening of the bottle down to the bottom. Pour about an inch of a sweet liquid into it, and set it next to an area that you know is active for yellow jackets.It’s only the beginning of the wasp season, so it’s best to be proactive and start deterring wasps now before you have to call a pest control professional.
Types of Wasps
There are many types of hornets and wasps, and although they don’t do much pollination, they do serve a purpose and that is to be nature’s pest control. They are predatory and skillfully hunt down the other yard annoyances such as spiders, flies and different insects. Without wasps, your home would be engulfed in bugs.
There are a multiple wasps in Wisconsin, but here are few common ones that you’re likely to see this season.
These wasps are a type of paper wasp that opportunistically build their nest in existing burrows or openings, such as old rodent burrows or in the crevices and pockets of your home. Often times they can be seen flying in an out of soffits or gaps where a nest may not be visible.
These guys are fairly aggressive and should be treated as such, so if you suspect a nest, it’s best to avoid the area until it can be addressed with bravery or a professional.
Bald-faced hornets build visible, paper nests, usually attached to trees. These nests are quite incredible looking, smooth and conical, and can range in size from about the diameter of a grape fruit to the size of a beach ball.
These hornets are pretty sizeable (about an inch long), black and white, and very aggressive. If you stumble across a nest, try not to make sudden or exaggerated movements that may startle them, as these wasps have what is referred to as a smooth stinger. A smooth stinger allows the wasps to continually sting until the threat they’ve perceived has been abated.
Northern Paper Wasps
Northern Paper Wasps are most commonly found in the Midwest states. They are likely to build nests near humans as that is where a lot of wood can be found (homes, barns, sheds, fences, firewood, landscaping, etc.). The wasps use wood to help create their nest.
The primary queen is first to aggressively defend her nest and her oldest workers will join her in that effort. People and animals that disturb nests may be stung multiple times as wasps do not die after one sting (like honeybees do). Aside from possibly suffering from painful stings, Northern Paper Wasps actually do a great job of removing plant-devouring caterpillars from gardens.
Cicada killers are very large wasps that can be black with yellow or red with yellow. They are solitary creatures and live in small holes they’ve burrowed into the ground. They hunt (you guessed it) cicadas.
Despite their formidable size and appearance, they typically only sting when roughly handled. They have been known to ‘dive-bomb’ individuals who come near their homes, but this is usually an intimidation tactic.